Why Creative Matters ~ Mike Poukey

Before we discuss why creative matters, we should define ‘creative’ in the context of advertising, and more specifically, the type of advertising we do here at Cuneo. In the most basic sense, the work we produce should be a creative expression of a fully-baked strategy. So, all the strategic planning we do – to determine client goals, tactics, media mix, messaging, etc., is used to inform the creative approach and, in turn, the creative expressions should clearly reflect and emphasize those objectives. Bottom line, the creative MUST complement our client’s marketing strategy.

For creative to matter it needs to resonate with the viewer and that’s where the challenge (and the fun) begins. Think of the ads you tend to like and remember. They probably:

  • Connected with you in some way
  • Were memorable
  • Provided succinct information
  • Included a call to action

You could argue that any creative successfully delivering on the above is creative that “matters” because it is likely to get good results. That doesn’t necessarily mean it’s aesthetically good creative, just that it’s effective. Conversely, sometimes really brilliant creative isn’t effective.

Still, advertising is very much about getting noticed by cutting through the clutter and that challenge requires creative work that has the strongest possible “pull factor” because if consumers don’t notice your advertising to begin with, your message is not going to resonate.

Though the approach varies according to the medium, effective creative will typically have most or all of these characteristics:

  • Attract and hold attention.
  • Emphasize benefits rather than features.
  • Simplicity.
  • Include a memorable feature, such as a tagline.
  • Contain a call to action.
  • Forge an emotional connection with viewers.
  • Tell a relevant story.
  • Celebrate a brand.

It is not uncommon to for agencies to put the cart before the horse and rely on creative to compensate for a poorly conceived strategy. It’s not impossible for good creative to overcome strategic shortcomings but that would be an exception to the rule.

Creativity is the process that transforms a sound strategy into a terrific ad. A sound strategy is what sets the table for good creative. Like most good things that come out of the agency, it’s a team effort.